6 Common Furnace Repair Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

lemsMaybe you have the DIY bug, or maybe your furnace quit working on the coldest night of the year. Whatever the reason, if you’re like other homeowners, you’ve felt tempted to take a shot at fixing a central heating system issue.

While there are tasks you can tackle on your own, it’s not always a matter of can you, but should you attempt furnace repairs?

We’ll answer that question later. In the meantime, read on and explore common furnace repair mistakes. You’ll also find out how to avoid making those mistakes in the first place.

1. Have You Ever Played the Waiting Game?

One of the most significant mistakes homeowners make regarding their heating system is waiting. Sometimes waiting means ignoring problems, and neither behavior bodes well for your furnace.

Think of it as playing the waiting game. Here are the rules:

  • Ignore Signs of Damage
  • Ignore Tell-Tale Noises and Smells
  • Wait Too Long to Call for Repairs

Playing the game puts you in the position of thinking noises and smells will go away, and other symptoms of a furnace that needs repair will somehow fix themselves.

We alluded to the idea that not every repair makes a good DIY project. If you wait too long to figure out you’re in over your head to call an HVAC repair specialist, you risk bigger, more costly repairs.


2. Jumping in Too Quickly

Discovering a furnace problem never happens in the middle of a heatwave. It’s always during a cold snap. Remember when the polar vortex crept in two years ago?

When you’re freezing, you want to jump in and get the heat back on, but hold on just a minute. You can’t just open the furnace cabinet and start tinkering. It’s critical to turn off the power supply first, which means shutting off the electricity to the furnace and the gas supply, if applicable.

It’s a safety issue that you can’t afford to ignore. Failing to turn off the power and fuel supply puts you at risk for a dangerous accident. Don’t grab your tools before you ensure you’ve taken care of safety first.

3. Putting Your Confidence in the Wrong Materials

We’re betting you have at least one roll of duct tape lying around your garage or basement. It’s the go-to bandaid for a variety of home repair problems.

Duct tape is a wonderful invention, but it’s not a universal solution!

For example, you may need to fix a furnace gap or a leak in your ductwork. It’s a job just about any DIYer can handle successfully with the right materials. Reaching for your roll of duct tape makes sense—it’s made for the job, right?

Duct tape has a history that has nothing to do with furnace repair. Our go-to tape debuted during WWI as a sealer for ammunition boxes. It was called duck tape.

Assuming that duct tape works on ductwork or your furnace cabinet will hinder your repair job could cost you time and money. The adhesive on duct tape turns brittle when it reacts to temperature fluctuations meaning your repair job may not last.

For sealing leaks and gaps, you can try a combination of these safer and more permanent solutions:

As long as we’re on the subject of ductwork and tools, let’s take a look at another common furnace repair mistake—DIY duct cleaning.

4. Tackling Duct Cleaning by Yourself

Before diving DIY duct cleaning, we should clarify the whole duct tape question. You noticed we suggested not to use duct tape, and then offered aluminum foil duct tape as a viable solution. That’s because it’s designed to adhere to sheet metal.

Now that we’ve cleared up any misunderstandings about duct tape, we want to caution you about duct cleaning.

Ductwork accumulates dust and debris, which can cause performance issues with your furnace. Perhaps you’ve seen a dusty, grimy buildup in the grills of your air vents and assumed you had dirty air ducts. With the wealth of instructional YouTube videos, you’ll find just enough information to get you into trouble.

First, cleaning ductwork is not part of routine furnace maintenance. Second, if you’re seeing excessive amounts of debris coming from your air vents, you need to determine the underlying causes. Third, ductwork cleaning requires specialized tools.

Ductwork maintenance and cleaning isn’t a DIY project!

5. Voting Against Routine Maintenance

This mistake isn’t one people make when they decide to do a little DIY furnace repair, but it’s a mistake none-the-less. What happens is the furnace seems to work fine, and it doesn’t make sense to cut into the furnace repair budget to pay for a tune-up. Big mistake!

Regular maintenance, annual inspections, and furnace tune-ups (done by a licensed HVAC technician) help prevent small issues from becoming big problems. The cost of routine service is usually far less than the cost of repairs.

6. Venturing Beyond Troubleshooting

At the beginning of this post, we said we’d talk about furnace repair tasks the average person can handle on their own. Most of what you can do revolves around troubleshooting.

When your furnace doesn’t perform the way it should start with the basic checks, including:

Any of these things you can take care of without opening the furnace cabinet, working with the gas line, or using tools. When you go beyond troubleshooting, you venture into areas where, unless you’re a qualified furnace repair service professional, it’s best not to go.

Avoid Furnace Repair Mistakes with a Phone Call

When you experience furnace issues, you’re dealing with a complex mechanical system. Even though your heart is in the right place, it’s easy to make furnace repair mistakes by failing to turn off the power, using the wrong materials, or attempting to fix something that isn’t broken, like dirty air ducts.

Troubleshooting is fine and indeed can help your HVAC technician understand the symptoms of your furnace issue. Anything beyond that is a job for a professional.

We’ve been taking care of furnace repairs since 1956! Contact our team of experts today and let us help you get to the bottom of your furnace issues.